Your Guide to Buying a Long-Lasting Camera Battery

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Your Guide to Buying a Long-Lasting Camera Battery

Camera batteries are known for depleting quite quickly as photography requires much higher power consumption than many other electronic devices. Cameras also have a range of features that can be switched on or off, and using them increases the rate at which power is drained from the unit.
This guide focuses upon the various battery types available for cameras and the best ones to use to ensure long-lasting battery life during a photo shoot.

Overview of Camera Batteries

When cameras are designed, the manufacturers generally accommodate for just one type of battery; offering more than one option will generally take up too much space within the camera. As such, most cameras are sold accompanied with an initial battery unit. However, exactly what type of battery this is will often change depending upon factors that include how much the camera costs, what type of camera it is – either film or digital – and how old the camera model is.
Most good-quality digital and DSLR cameras use a battery type that is well-known for its long-lasting power; this is the Lithium ion cell. It is by far the most popular battery type used in digital cameras and can be recharged via an AC mains plug socket when it has been depleted. These batteries are capable with keeping up with the high power demands of digital and DSLR cameras. Film cameras are much less demanding in terms of power consumption and thus use a much smaller kind of power unit.

The Different Types of Camera Battery

As cameras are manufactured with specific battery types in mind, there isn't really much choice in what power unit to buy. But if looking to purchase a camera in the future, it is useful to know the benefits and drawbacks of each different type of camera battery in order to make an informed decision.

Type

Description

Disposable AA batteries
(Mignon)
 

Disposable AA batteries are the type used commonly in everyday electrical equipment. As such, they are easily found in most convenience stores and come in multipacks, often at a discount. This makes the cost of replacement initially quite cheap. However, whereas most electrical equipment in the house can run for weeks or months on one set of AA batteries, cameras will often consume the entire cell in as little as several minutes.
The only real discernible benefit of these batteries is that they can be rapidly changed after their power has depleted. By carrying several different sets of batteries, photographers can be sure that they have enough power to last an entire shoot or for a whole vacation if necessary.
Overall, these batteries are the worst to purchase in terms of longevity between charges.

Rechargeable AA batteries
(Nickel-cadmium or NiCd)
 

These batteries appear similar to regular AA cells, except they contain a different composition and can be recharged via an AC mains power supply. This is achieved via an AA battery charger and usually takes several hours. Though slightly more expensive to purchase than disposables, they recoup their cost through constant recharge.
Despite this benefit over AA disposable batteries, they still have one main drawback, which is the potential to suffer from something called memory effect. This is the phenomenon of a rechargeable battery remembering a lower capacity than it is originally designed to have by the battery being charged from a semi-full state repeatedly. This is why rechargeable batteries should always be depleted fully before a recharge.
These batteries are slightly better than their disposable counterparts, but not the best batteries available for long periods of use.

Lithium ion batteries
(Li-ion)
 

Lithium ion power cells are much better than the two aforementioned types of battery. They are capable of lasting far longer between charges and can in fact last for hundreds of recharges before needing replacement. Due to this, they are the most commonly seen type of battery included in the packaging of digital and DSLR cameras
Lithium ion batteries are the longest-lasting battery units available for digital cameras and can provide the level of power needed to support the extensive functions available on higher-end models.
These batteries are also rather expensive though cheaper versions can be found for a reduced price.

Increasing a Battery's Lifespan

There are various methods to increase a battery’s lifespan.

Switching off the Camera's Flash

Though it is necessary sometimes to use the camera's flash function in order to take photographs in a darkened room or at night, it is also extremely draining on the power supply. This can be combated by switching the flash off and using a light attachment – on the biggest DSLRs – or by only shooting in the daytime. Often, professional photographers use the flash constantly, regardless of lighting, to ensure that illumination on photographs is perfect; however, this is not always necessary.

Using the Viewfinder Instead of the LCD

If the camera has a viewfinder, a small eyepiece on the top of the camera, which is particularly common with larger DSLR cameras, then it is worth using this rather than the LCD when the camera's battery is running low. The LCD is the most power consuming component of a digital camera, particularly when being used to view past photographs, apply image effects, or adjust brightness settings. By completely turning off the screen, battery power can be conserved for longer.
Incidentally, this can also improve the quality of images taken, as the proximity of holding the camera closer to ones face reduces the incidence of image blur, caused by shaking of the arms when holding the equipment away from the body.

Standby Mode

Using power saving modes, where available, can put the camera into a state of standby in situations where there are intermittent breaks between taking shots. This consumes much less power from the camera's battery than repeatedly switching the equipment off and then back on.
Overall, when a camera battery is nearing empty during an exciting photograph opportunity, then it is useful to know of these steps that can be used to prolong the battery's life.

Carrying Spares

Of course, one of the easiest methods of increasing the amount of time that one can continue shooting is to carry spare camera batteries. This is easier in the case of a camera that uses AA disposable or rechargeable batteries as they are cheaper to purchase. However, two fully-charged Lithium ion batteries can last a great deal of time, and a spare Li-ion battery unit can be picked up for a reasonable cost. If this cost is too high, then it is also possible to find cheaper imitation versions of these power units.

Conclusion

Cameras are generally far more power consuming than other household electronics and therefore require batteries that are capable of managing such high power consumption.
Though AA batteries are indeed used in some digital cameras, they are generally not very efficient and are depleted very quickly. Most digital cameras use Lithium ion batteries as they are designed to last far longer and hold greater quantities of power. They are by far the best batteries available for the job.
There are some steps that can be taken to prolong the life of a camera battery. Photographers can turn off their LCD and use the viewfinder window instead to position their shots. They can also neglect to use the camera's flash and avoid repeatedly powering the camera off and on by using a power saving or standby function instead.
A range of camera batteries can be found on the eBay marketplace by searching in the relevant categories and using filters to narrow down results into the desired price range or manufacturer. These batteries are found in the accessories area of the Cameras & Photography section.

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